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  • Newbie looking for suggestions before responding to solar quotes received

    First post - hello from Jersey shore,(the nice, not wild one) & feeling fortunate to have found site! House rebuilt post Sandy in 2015, an elevated 2-story approx 40' high,3000 sq ft, Back yard faces south and not in any shade.

    Today I have first call with EnergySage after last week registering there, watching videos, reading. Received 5 quotes and responded to installers that we're in research stage but will be in touch.
    (NJSolarPower, SolarEnergyWorld, GreenPowerEnergy, SundialSolar Innovations, ReliablePower).

    Yesterday discovered this site, read with great interest NJturtlesolar's "Coming to NJ....".
    Hadnt yet even heard of SREC, sounded like knowing specifics of it could affect choosing equip. Thought I'd just read up on it, lot to read up on and not sure if premature doing so now.
    We do wont to get going on this
    PLEASE HELP -- Any suggestions, maybe from your own experience:
    >> W
    hat upfront (at this early stage) I should be asking / focusing on
    going into conversation with EnergySage today and / or later with first installer contact?
    >> ANYthing Ive said make you think of recommendations for me to focus on, look into?
    Im big on researching, reading up on, trying to avoid regrets but challenged prioritizing because seems so much to info and things to consider.

    Uploaded photo just in case useful.



    solarpaneltalk.jpg
    Attached Files

  • #2
    Don't buy or commit to anything yet.

    1.) Buy or download a copy of "Solar Power Your Home for Dummies". A good primer.

    2.) Determine your annual load and how much of it you want to offset with PV.

    3.) At the same time as # 2, get familiar with how and how much you are charged for electricity as well as how the SREC market works in NJ.

    4.) Download PVWatts, read all the help screens a couple of times and make a few runs with the approx. correct array orientation. run it for a 1 kW array. Use a 10 % system loss parameter (You'll find out what that is from the help screens).

    5.) Divide the result of # 2 above by the 1kW system's annual output from # 4 above. That will be your preliminary system size in kW.

    6.) Check your numbers, modify and iterate the size.

    7.) Come back here and fill in any knowledge gaps that your self education creates.

    8.) Iterate system size and equipment using acquired knowledge.

    9.) I don't know what your local turnkey pricing is like. Maybe others from Jersey/Shore area can fill you in w/ local info. Anyway, get/pick a low ball price/STC W, multiply by your chosen system size in STC W.

    9.) Spend some time in vendor eval. and remember a good vendor is worth a slight premium, but you can't afford the price of a poor vendor or a non quality install.

    10.) Price is important, but buying on low initial buck can be a trap. Pick a vendor on quality, reputation and integrity as well as how long they've been around and how long they've sold PV.A good vendor is worth a slight premium. Stay local and avoid the big national outfits.

    11.) Negotiate tough but fair and professional. Never share prices between vendors. Price matching is a trap. Reveal one price to a vendor and you'll never get a lower one. Know the market and get better control over the price you're willing to pay.

    Welcome to the neighborhood.

    Comment


    • #3
      THANK YOU so much - this is actually what I ultimately wanted, a plan and admittedly I don't understand all of it but I believe I will as I proceed with it or at least be able to post specific inquiries here if need be. Very grateful for you spelling it out this way for me.

      Comment


      • #4
        NJShore I too stumbled onto this forum while doing my research, after having received 4 quotes from EnergySage which I wasn't too pleased with. Couple of them insist that I provide them my contact info before answering some basic questions. One, per EnergySage, claimed to be installing solar since 2008, but after digging deeper, I discovered a reddit thread from around 5 years ago with the guy seeking advice on his startup solar installation business.

        I received 5 quotes. Pretty much all of them size your system based on satellite view of your house and your electric bill. All but Tesla will not come to your home to do an actual site survey until you've signed the agreement, so you're not going to see a formal system design until you do. In Tesla's case, they did send me the formal system design since they did a detailed survey before even giving me the quote. In reading the quote, I found out that they keep your SRECs by default. This was not mentioned to me during the numerous phone calls I had with their rep based in Las Vegas. I only saw it when reading through the agreement which was a shock to me. I assume local installers don't do this, but you definitely need to confirm with your installer that included with your system will be all associated SREC registrations to *your* name. The 10yr SREC term alone nearly pays for the whole system, assuming the NJ SREC value hold. The NJ SREC program will be closed to new registration around May of 2020.

        You can read about NJ's SREC program here if you haven't already: http://www.njcleanenergy.com/renewable-energy/home/home Basically you earn credits for generating electricity from your PV system, and you can sell those credits for cash which has been around $220 per SREC. One SREC = 1000kwh of electricity generated. My system is estimated to make 12-14 per year.

        For New Jersey based installer, GPE is the one consistently recommended by system owners, on this forum and couple other I browsed and is the one I went with. EnergySage did not connect me with GPE, so I was the one to initiate contact with them. FYI GPE is giving me Panasonic 330watt panels at $2.91 per watt, which is lower than all but one of the quotes from EnergySage, all with cheaper panels.

        Hope this helps.

        Comment


        • #5
          sunpoweredev -- thanks for sharing your experience (read thru it a few times, lots of info). GPE also quoted us at "
          Panasonic 330watt panels at $2.91 per watt" and we are regarding them highly due to hearing of their reputation.

          Spoke with NJ Solar Power who provided lowest quote for
          Hanwha Q CELLS, 325watt @ $2.65 per watt (standard plus panel) and they will be providing us a quote for the Panasonic Panels. Asked him about rights to SREC and he seemed to think that was something done with leases but with all installers WILL ask and keep an eye on contracts to confirm in SREC our name. Reading up on SRECs.

          Comment


          • #6
            If you have any shading on the array, and getting the Hanwha Qcells, try to get the latest Q.PEAK DUO-G5
            Being Split cell panels, they should be a little more efficient

            Comment


            • #7
              Q.PEAK DUO-G5 was the model from NJ Solar quote prior to us requesting Panasonic quote but surprising to hear theyre more efficient because was going off energysage listing them only standard plus vs premium or premium plus

              Comment


              • #8
                I did not mean they are more efficient than the Panasonic, but that they are better than the Hanwha G4 model for shade management

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by NJShore View Post
                  THANK YOU so much - this is actually what I ultimately wanted, a plan and admittedly I don't understand all of it but I believe I will as I proceed with it or at least be able to post specific inquiries here if need be. Very grateful for you spelling it out this way for me.
                  If that's meant for me, you're welcome.

                  You'll understand more of it after the book, do the PVWatts modeling, and when you gain working knowledge of utility particulars.

                  Do your homework and then get more opinions here and elsewhere as per # 7 of my hit list. BTW: Don't ask vendors a question unless you're pretty sure you know the answer. You'll find out more that way, including a better insight into vendor knowledge (or lack of it). The more knowledgeable you become, the more it will help you understand the opinions you do get and probably about equally important, the better your chances of detecting when someone is trying to blow smoke where the sun don't shine, both here and elsewhere.

                  As for Tesla or the old SolarCity, Another opinion: I've seen enough of their work in my HOA and have tired to deal with them enough that I've formed the opinion I wouldn't let them on my property. Same for Vivant and Sunrun. They're solar equipment bottom feeders. Stick with local, licensed electrical contractors that have been around at least 10 yrs. and sold PV for at least 5. You will get better work and more long term bang for your buck. See # 10 of my hit list above.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by scrambler View Post
                    If you have any shading on the array, and getting the Hanwha Qcells, try to get the latest Q.PEAK DUO-G5
                    Being Split cell panels, they should be a little more efficient
                    Why is that ?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by NJShore View Post
                      sunpoweredev -- thanks for sharing your experience (read thru it a few times, lots of info). GPE also quoted us at "
                      Panasonic 330watt panels at $2.91 per watt" and we are regarding them highly due to hearing of their reputation.

                      Spoke with NJ Solar Power who provided lowest quote for
                      Hanwha Q CELLS, 325watt @ $2.65 per watt (standard plus panel) and they will be providing us a quote for the Panasonic Panels. Asked him about rights to SREC and he seemed to think that was something done with leases but with all installers WILL ask and keep an eye on contracts to confirm in SREC our name. Reading up on SRECs.
                      That would be an automatic red flag for me. How does a solar installer not know about how SREC works? Perhaps by default they will pull a fast one on unsuspecting buyers to unknowingly sign away their SRECs to them, like Tesla tried on me. I read all the fine prints On a leased system or a PPA, yes the SRECs will go to the lessor or the company underwriting the PPA.

                      When I met with the GPE rep, one of the first questions I asked was whether the quote includes SREC registration to my name, to which it was a simple yes. No games. There's a rule which states that initial SREC registration must take place within 14 days of contract signing. I received an email from NJ clean energy confirming my complaint initial registration after two days of signing the agreement with GPE. Info on that here http://njcleanenergy.com/renewable-e...gistration-srp

                      Within two week of giving my final go ahead with the system, GPE received all necessary permits to begin installation. This is YMMV and will depend on your town and utility. Initially I was told that 4-6 weeks for permit is the norm.

                      Just for comparison purpose, I asked my GPE rep on cheaper panels. IIRC he quoted me $2.60, it was either for LG or Hanwha I don't remember exactly. It is not an insignificant difference in cost going with the Panasonic panels on a 12.2kw system, and some here will probably tell you that it's not worth the premium. My thinking was that this is a long term investment and I was willing to pay the premium to ensure that I get the most out of it in the next 30 years. The panel you choose will not affect SREC registration.

                      Originally posted by J.P.M. View Post
                      BTW: Don't ask vendors a question unless you're pretty sure you know the answer. You'll find out more that way, including a better insight into vendor knowledge (or lack of it). The more knowledgeable you become, the more it will help you understand the opinions you do get and probably about equally important, the better your chances of detecting when someone is trying to blow smoke where the sun don't shine, both here and elsewhere.
                      What JPM said there really is key.
                      Last edited by sunpoweredev; 06-12-2019, 09:03 AM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by sunpoweredev View Post
                        That would be an automatic red flag for me. How does a solar installer not know about how SREC works? Perhaps by default they will pull a fast one on unsuspecting buyers to unknowingly sign away their SRECs to them, like Tesla tried on me. I read all the fine prints On a leased system or a PPA, yes the SRECs will go to the lessor or the company underwriting the PPA.

                        When I met with the GPE rep, one of the first questions I asked was whether the quote includes SREC registration to my name, to which it was a simple yes. No games. There's a rule which states that initial SREC registration must take place within 14 days of contract signing. I received an email from NJ clean energy confirming my complaint initial registration after two days of signing the agreement with GPE. Info on that here http://njcleanenergy.com/renewable-e...gistration-srp

                        Within two week of giving my final go ahead with the system, GPE received all necessary permits to begin installation. This is YMMV and will depend on your town and utility. Initially I was told that 4-6 weeks for permit is the norm.

                        Just for comparison purpose, I asked my GPE rep on cheaper panels. IIRC he quoted me $2.60, it was either for LG or Hanwha I don't remember exactly. It is not an insignificant difference in cost going with the Panasonic panels on a 12.2kw system, and some here will probably tell you that it's not worth the premium. My thinking was that this is a long term investment and I was willing to pay the premium to ensure that I get the most out of it in the next 30 years. The panel you choose will not affect SREC registration.


                        What JPM said there really is key.
                        What J.P.M. also says is that above some basic level of quality, panels are, and have been, a commodity for several years now.

                        Try the vehicle comparison: Why buy a Mercedes as a grocery hauler when a Ford or a Toyota is equally as fit for purpose for a lot less $$ ?

                        If you're like most potential PV owners, you want a system as safe, fit for purpose, trouble free, serviceable and as cost effective as possible. One ingredient to getting all that is to keep the system as simple as possible. In low or no shade, that points to a string inverter.

                        As for more KISS, fortunately, panels have pretty much proven or verified that they have very good reliability, and pretty much across the board very similar annual output per STC W pretty much regardless of who makes the panel or what it costs - again, above some basic quality level.

                        Do your homework and along the way you'll learn to see the B.S. contained in most of the hype from peddlers that many folks swallow whole and proclaim like they're experts, confusing hearsay, what some peddler spoon feeds them, and/or advertising stuff they repeat without knowledge or experience, or data to back up what there writing or saying.

                        Look, a PV system is an appliance, not a lifestyle. Do your homework with information from unbiased sources. Seek opinions you trust after that. Be skeptical of unsolicited opinions (including mine BTW). You'll be better able to separate reality from B.S. and maybe get a better system for the effort.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by J.P.M. View Post

                          What J.P.M. also says is that above some basic level of quality, panels are, and have been, a commodity for several years now.

                          Try the vehicle comparison: Why buy a Mercedes as a grocery hauler when a Ford or a Toyota is equally as fit for purpose for a lot less $$ ?

                          If you're like most potential PV owners, you want a system as safe, fit for purpose, trouble free, serviceable and as cost effective as possible. One ingredient to getting all that is to keep the system as simple as possible. In low or no shade, that points to a string inverter.

                          As for more KISS, fortunately, panels have pretty much proven or verified that they have very good reliability, and pretty much across the board very similar annual output per STC W pretty much regardless of who makes the panel or what it costs - again, above some basic quality level.

                          Do your homework and along the way you'll learn to see the B.S. contained in most of the hype from peddlers that many folks swallow whole and proclaim like they're experts, confusing hearsay, what some peddler spoon feeds them, and/or advertising stuff they repeat without knowledge or experience, or data to back up what there writing or saying.

                          Look, a PV system is an appliance, not a lifestyle. Do your homework with information from unbiased sources. Seek opinions you trust after that. Be skeptical of unsolicited opinions (including mine BTW). You'll be better able to separate reality from B.S. and maybe get a better system for the effort.
                          Yes I saw your writing on that on another thread while I was lurking this forum in search for info, and I definitely took that into advisement. In the end, I was willing to pay the difference (especially since the quote I received from my installer was actually lower than another installer with a cheaper panel) and I know Panasonic generally makes a very durable product, having own many Panasonic products in the past. Being on the roof for the entirety of its life, durability is a must for a solar panel. Bit of a shame that Panasonic consumer products is pretty much gone.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by sunpoweredev View Post

                            Yes I saw your writing on that on another thread while I was lurking this forum in search for info, and I definitely took that into advisement. In the end, I was willing to pay the difference (especially since the quote I received from my installer was actually lower than another installer with a cheaper panel) and I know Panasonic generally makes a very durable product, having own many Panasonic products in the past. Being on the roof for the entirety of its life, durability is a must for a solar panel. Bit of a shame that Panasonic consumer products is pretty much gone.
                            Understood. I try to be consistent, particularly when ranting about how consumers need more self education and they usually get more/less screwed by their own ignorance.

                            when commenting so, I try to keep in mind that others besides the poster whose post I'm commenting to may be reading my comment and I try to keep it specific to the post while at the same time maybe having some general applicability to a wider readership.

                            To your post, I'd comment that you wrote you are willing to pay a premium to get the most out of it (the premium I'm assuming here) over the next 30 years. So, my point: Besides anecdotal information about Panasonic be good stuff and a big outfit, what solid experiential knowledge and/or training do you have with respect to Panasonic solar equipment that adds some meat to your opinion that, because they seem to make good stuff like radios, toasters and TVs, their solar panel product is worth a premium ? And, in the limit, how much do you think that premium might be ?

                            This is, among other things, a place for opinions. Opinions are great and certainly all are valid, and I'm not picking a fight, but some opinions are more reality based. Some less so.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by J.P.M. View Post

                              Understood. I try to be consistent, particularly when ranting about how consumers need more self education and they usually get more/less screwed by their own ignorance.

                              when commenting so, I try to keep in mind that others besides the poster whose post I'm commenting to may be reading my comment and I try to keep it specific to the post while at the same time maybe having some general applicability to a wider readership.

                              To your post, I'd comment that you wrote you are willing to pay a premium to get the most out of it (the premium I'm assuming here) over the next 30 years. So, my point: Besides anecdotal information about Panasonic be good stuff and a big outfit, what solid experiential knowledge and/or training do you have with respect to Panasonic solar equipment that adds some meat to your opinion that, because they seem to make good stuff like radios, toasters and TVs, their solar panel product is worth a premium ? And, in the limit, how much do you think that premium might be ?

                              This is, among other things, a place for opinions. Opinions are great and certainly all are valid, and I'm not picking a fight, but some opinions are more reality based. Some less so.
                              Experiential knowledge? Absolutely zilch. What swayed me was 1) Panasonic being one of the very few rated as "premium PLUS" on EnergySage (yeah, I know ) 2) their claimed <10% degradation over 25yrs, 3) actually cheaper than another quote I received with a cheaper panel, 4) claimed resiliency against snow/hail/wind.

                              I always research as much as I can before purchasing any products, favorite Google search is xxx product vs yyy product. Most of which are usually obsolete long before it will fail. For a solar panel, I'm after durability against the elements, and xxx solar panel vs yyy solar panel durability over 25yrs is not something that can practically be tested and reviewed. The combination of points 2/3/4 above ultimately helped me justify paying the price premium. One will never really know, but I will be sure to rant about it here should I run into any issues with the Panasonic panels.

                              Comment

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